15 Aug 2008

Wall St ends higher as oil drops

9:13 am on 15 August 2008

Stocks in the United States rose in thin trade on Thursday after another decline in the price of oil. Financial shares bounced back from a sharp two-day sell-off.

Shares of JPMorgan Chase & Co were up 2.4% at $US37.81, two days after an announcement of $US1.5 billion in further write-downs in the current quarter due to the housing slump.

Shares of mortgage finance providers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also headed higher.

Earlier, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told The Wall Street Journal that US house prices will begin to stabilize in the first half of 2009.

The price of oil fell 99 cents to settle at $US115.01 a barrel.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 82.97 points, or 0.72%, to 11,615.93.

Standard & Poor's 500 Index climbed 7.10 points, or 0.55%, to 1,292.93. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 25.05 points, or 1.03%, at 2,453.67.

Trading volume was low on the New York Stock Exchange, with about 1.01 billion shares changing hands. About 1.85 billion shares were traded on the Nasdaq.

European shares up

European shares also ended higher after a choppy session, amid a recovery in commodity prices. Oil and gas shares were the top performing sector.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares ended up 0.5% at 1,185.64 points. The index fell 2.4% on Wednesday but is up 0.5% to date for August.

The FTSEurofirst has gained about 9% since mid-July.

Around Europe: Germany's DAX gained 0.3% and France's CAC gained 0.4%.

In Britain, the FTSE 100 closed 48.8 points higher, 0.9%, at 5,497.4 after losing 1.6% on Wednesday.

Down Under markets

The Australian 200 Index closed up 30 points at 4981 on Thursday.

The NZX 50 was down 11 points to 3334.

Fletcher Building was up 2 cents at $6.60 after a 4% fall in annual profit.

Telecom was down 7c to $3.31. Contact Energy was up 2 cents to $8.47.

Auckland International Airport Ltd was down 2c to $2.03 after shelving plans to move to a single duty free operator.

Opus International was up 2c to $1.84 after reporting that half year profit increased by 36% to $9.1 million. New Zealand Oil & Gas was up 5c to $1.47.

In the currency markets: at 6.25am on Friday, the New Zealand dollar was trading at US70.31 cents, 80.38 Australian cents, 37.54 pence, 76.86 yen and 0.4704 euro. The Trade Weighted Index was at 65.11.